Chef Talk: The Gypsy Queen of Cuisine

Chef Suzy Phillips.

Chef Suzy Phillips.

Suzy Phillips is a self-taught chef with 15 years of experience in the food industry. Born and raised in Lebanon, Philips moved to the states with her family in 1988, fleeing the long Lebanese Civil War. Phillips is currently in the process of starting a Lebanese deli/market called Zeytoon, slated to open in the spring of 2010. She also caters and teaches private cooking classes that specialize in Lebanese cuisine. As if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Phillips hosts, directs, edits and produces a Lebanese cooking show called Gypsy Queen Cuisine that has aired on URTV (Asheville’s public access) and Rochester NY’s public access channel. Phillips is married to artist Gabriel Shaffer and loves to garden, paint, travel and hike with her two dogs, Ginger and Olive.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Traveling and eating my way around the world!

What is your greatest fear? Spiders. I hate them and they love me!

What is your inspiration? Success.

Which person, alive or dead, do you most admire? My mother, Salwa Farah, she is my everything.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? Smoking a cigarette on occasion.

What is your current state of mind? Chaotic.

What is the quality you most like in a person? Sense of humor.

What is the quality you least like in a person? Laziness.

Which talent would you most like to have? To play the drums like Danny Carey.

Which habit would you most like to be rid of? Procrastination.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Buying a house all on my own.

What would you choose to be if you were to be reincarnated? My cat Sunday, she’s got the life, living large.

What is your biggest vice? Being a smidge bossy.

What is your favorite thing to do on a cold day? Make soup or stew.

What would you cook for the President? Not beets! Seriously, I would make a Lebanese mezza spread, from stuffed lamb to fried snapper drizzled with tarator (tahini, garlic dressing).

What is your favorite culinary tool? My mortar and pestle that I brought with me from Lebanon.

What is your idea of hell on earth? Dick Cheney’s house.

What quality do you most value in your friends? Their uniqueness.

Who is your favorite chef? Well that is a toughie, so I’ll just say my favorite local chefs are Matt Dawes and Jacob Sessoms from Table.

Who is your favorite writer? Gibran Khalil Gibran

Who are your heroes in real life? My mother.

What is it that you most dislike? Being told what to do.

What food could you not live without? Garlic, figs and pomegranates.

What music could you not live without? Hard Rock and Classical.

How would you like to die? With a full stomach and a smile on my face.

How would you like to live? To the fullest.

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